Team South Africa!
Will, Kiesha, Sophia, and Zach will be serving with Hope Prison Ministries – partaking in the raising of a new generation of Christian leaders from within South Africa’s prisons in and around Capetown.
Sarah and Aubrey will be serving with missionaries Prem and Rita James at Asha Kiran special needs school in Bangalore. They will support the school staff inside and outside the classroom.
Haley, Stephanie, and Alessia will be serving with Maranatha Ministries in Port-au-Prince. These three will be helping at a six-week-long children’s camp.
Jenna and Ashley will be serving with Youth Missions International missionary Julio Serrano. They will partake in the local church ministry as well as spend some time ministering to natives in the Amazon Rainforest.
Casie and Angelina will be serving with Samuil Petrovski in Serbia as well as Croatia. They will spend a lot of time building relationships with college-age students and taking part in reconciliation ministries.
This month, our deputees will begin the training process as they prepare to travel abroad this summer. Please keep each team in your prayers as they prepare their hearts and minds for their trips. Additionally, keeping each team in your prayers over the summer would be much appreciated. Thanks!
You know that common saying about how it’s a lot easier to trust God when things are going well for you? When they’re easy and everything’s hunky-dory? (Yes, I just used the phrase “hunky-dory”—I’m getting old, I’m allowed. 🙂 And, for those of you who don’t know what that means—hunky-dory (adj.): free of trouble or problems.) ANYWAY, sometimes when I hear people say this, I think, “I’m totally going to be better about this next time I’m in a tough spot. I’m going to 100% trust God when I encounter my next crappy circumstance.” …and then, that “next circumstance” hits. And, I don’t trust. I spiral into self-pity. What did I do wrong? What’s wrong with me? Why did this happen? What could I have done differently? Somehow it turns into me self-shaming or just simply feeling ashamed—even when there’s a possibility that there’s nothing I did wrong. Sometimes things just don’t work out, and it’s out of our control. There’s nothing we could’ve done to prevent this outcome, and yet, I still want an answer to the “why?” question.
The first difficult thing about this is not having a concrete answer. Maybe I won’t ever know exactly why this happened. And, for me, the easiest first step in getting over something is knowing why it happened or why it won’t work. (So, I don’t do it next time, obviously. 🙂 When I don’t get this concrete answer, it’s what sparks my spiraling…because, obviously, everything in life has a concrete answer. Everything’s black and white and easy. NOT. (#sarcasm) But, all that to say, if I’m not going to get that much-hoped-for concrete answer, I’m going to need to trust. Ugh. That’s harder! That requires more action from me. That requires me to actively decide that maybe I don’t know what’s best for me, and God just might know better. I think it’s also hard to let go of getting a solid answer. How can I prevent this from happening again, if I don’t have an answer?!
And, the second, and most difficult (in my opinion), is not blaming yourself for how something went down. Not wondering what YOU did wrong or what YOU could have done better. Because, fancy this, maybe you did NOTHING wrong. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be. Maybe those execs already had an exact picture in mind of every single quality they wanted in a new hire before they even interviewed you. Maybe he (or she) wasn’t going to like you no matter what you said or how you acted. Going down this rabbit hole of wondering: Why me? What’d I do? What if I was better? Well, it’s just no good. Because we were created exactly as we are by the Creator. He loves us completely, weaknesses, flaws, quirks, and all! He created EVERY. SINGLE. PART. of us. So, being critical of ourselves is, really, being critical of one of God’s beautiful creations.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:13-14)
We are wonderful! We need to remember that this is true. God had a plan when creating us, all parts of us. Even the parts that maybe we don’t like so much sometimes. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s easy to just say, “God created me. I’m great. End of story.” It’s not easy. That’s where the trust piece comes in. Trusting and truly believing that you are wonderfully made by God. Trusting that God has great plans for you, as you. Not the “you” you try to be to impress your crush or the you that hides the fact that maybe you’re a little bit of a weirdo. But He loves and created that weirdo. Be you. Be true to you. Trust that God loves exactly you.
Kelsey Anderson, UMin Admin
It is commonly said among Christians that God’s timing is different than our timing. That He operates outside of time, therefore we cannot expect His blessings, answers, or revelations exactly when we want them. I would agree with this. However, as I wrestled with what it means to “wait on the Lord,” it occurred to me that time itself is a human construct. We’ve simply attempted to conceptualize the way that things grow, change, move, and reveal themselves across this dimension of reality. It was in this realization that I suddenly began to wonder if rather than God being “outside” time, perhaps time is part of God Himself. This movement, completely out of our control, that we must surrender all things to. Even ourselves.
Because what is patience if not giving things to time. And what is giving things to time if not placing them directly in God’s hands. As we entrust our worries, questions, broken relationships, sick bodies, and other seemingly hopeless situations to the God of the universe, we proclaim faith. Faith that God will prove Himself present in our areas of worry. Faith that answers to our questions will be revealed in the moments that they are meant to be realized. Faith that our relationships will be constantly renewed and reconciled. Faith that even as our body is destroyed by disease, our soul grows strong and resilient in the eyes of the Lord.
Time is not to be feared, it is to be trusted. Sometimes I think one of the enemy’s greatest lies is the lie of “right now.” You need to know “right now” what to do about your broken marriage, or you need to hear “right now” what God is trying to teach you. In actuality, God often makes us sit with Him a long while before we get our answers. Before we see our prayers answered. But He is working in ever millisecond of time that passes. And that time is precious. It is God’s hands.
Brynna Seiber, UMin Intern
The start to the week has been amazing! We joined the Dominicans for church on Sunday and experienced an amazing moment of seeing different cultures worship the same God, and the joy of this impacted everyone present. On Monday, we toured all of the villages and the students wrestled with the process of encountering such poverty and the awkwardness that it is being an outsider in another’s world. Tuesday and Wednesday we’ve had our projects going on that have had a tremendous impact on the Dominicans. We’ve finished reconstructing one house – we took down the old walls and put up new ones. We’ve been painting the school at Pueblo Nuevo and the outside walls of all the building have been renewed. Our baseball team had their first game on Tuesday and won! The score was 3-2 playing the Alta Gracia village. Big smiles and encouragement from the team. The sponsorship team has helped write updated letters to send to the people who sponsor the kids – our students spend time with the sponsor kids and ask questions about their life and we help translate and write the letters in English. Additionally, the medical team is doing children check-ups at the schools assessing their weight, height, and current issues. The students are coming alive as they serve and so many testimonies of God’s goodness are taking place. At night we’re processing identity as they recognize they are loved by Jesus and that is enough. In response to this it’s helping them see it’s no different for the Dominicans. They put their identity in God as well, not in their circumstances which results in the joy they have.
-Becca Rennaker, UMin Neighborhood Outreach Coordinator
Our Peru team is safely in Lima! Since they are only there for a short time, they have a very active and full schedule, and have fun, busy days. Please know that likely this will be the only communication throughout the trip and remember no news is good news.
Should you have any questions during the week, feel free to email me, Kelsey, at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will get back to you as soon as I am able.
Here are a few pictures taken by the group we’re partnering with, Youth Missions International (YMI):
The team of 61 to the Dominican Republic has arrived safely in Barahona! They hope to update this space a time or two this week, internet connection permitting. Please be praying for their experience this week!
On March 3, our World Deputation 2015 class learned where they will be travelling this summer!
Check out the teams and their sites below:
From left: Juliana da Cruz, Brittany Campbell, Emily Sitler, & Haley Moore-Long
Team Dominican Republic!
From left: Michael Ahmann, Marjorie Thompson, Shane Jansen, Dana Fay, & Kylie Milano
From left: Marlena Bennett, Hannah Sasaki, & Jenny Eng
From left: Fredrik Mansfield, Brian Wipfler, Brynna Seiber, & Emma Mitsui
Please keep these deputees in your prayers as they spend the next few months preparing for their summer travels.
College is hard.
We’re in the heart of a community that’s going through so many tough things. New independence, new routines, change of scenery- basically a major lifestyle change. And with all of these new things come a bunch of new flavors of sin to try. Anxieties and temptations are at an all-time high. Thinking about sending a child of my own to college someday is absolutely terrifying.
But amidst all these scary things, we get to see so much hope and so much joy, and to put it plain and simple, so much Jesus. Every day we get to walk with students as they figure life out. It’s crazy encouraging to listen to students get it. They’re uncovering how loved they are, how strong they are, how talented and blessed they are, how fearfully and wonderfully made they are…and it’s rad! Very few things about where these students are at with their story are comfortable. College is so transitional. Yet every day God is speaking comforting truths into the lives of so many.
Isn’t it cool how He wants to do that for us? Here we are, these people who totally buy into all the hype the devil feeds us about the world and our place in it. And we are so immeasurably loved and desired that God is continually after us, yearning to transform us into new creations in Him. Wild.
Ryan’s talk last night at the Inn was on just that. 2 Corinthians 5:11-17, with verses 16 and 17 saying: “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
We did this great exercise at the end of the sermon where we closed our eyes and imagined ourselves in 30 years. I’ve been out of college for half a year and it already was hard for me to do the math in my head. Yikes. But eventually I calculated that in 30 years I’d be 53. Whoa, overwhelming. But Ryan clarified for us to get past our looks, what we own, and what we’ve accomplished, and he asked us to the best thing about ourselves at that point. Our favorite quality we imagine ourselves having. I thought, “In 30 years I’m going to love people so well and I’m going to be doing things that bring so much joy to myself and the people around me. That’d be really great.”
I feel like I don’t even have to tell you what happened next. We were reminded that we don’t have to wait 30 years for this kind of transformation. That God wants to work in us right now. To wash away the sin and highlight all that is good in us. Duh. This is arguably one of the most quintessential truths we get from the bible. And yet, how necessary it is that we be reminded so often of it. Honestly, every time I hear it, it’s like a breath of fresh air.
We lead lives that make us uncomfortable. But we can be comforted in that we have an awesome God on our team, walking with us, making us new in Him every step of the way.
Bailey Liu, UMin Intern
Today I took my first step into the inaugural Inn Bible Challenge. Over the next 40 days, we, as a community, are looking to dive into scripture and hope to come away with a greater appreciation of the story arc that guides both the New and Old Testaments, tying them together in one consistent narrative of our God’s deep love for us. Today began with creation and the fall.
I appreciated the contrast between the incredibly broad scope and strokes of the initial creation, juxtaposed to the incredibly intimate picture of Eve and Adam in the garden. Our God is one who paints with broad and powerful strokes, He’s a God of the big story and in charge of the scenery, yet He is also one who cares deeply about the most minute and minuscule of His creatures. My focus was especially drawn to the story of the fall in chapter 3.
Eve and Adam have been created in the image of God, but it becomes clear that this doesn’t satisfy them in and of itself. There is a deeper hunger for more. To know more.To be more. The snake tempts them, saying, “God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything”. This might seem like a childish attempt to trick someone, but Eve sees how attractive it is and takes it. Everything changes. The first thing they notice about themselves is their nakedness and how ashamed they are by it.
Eve throws together an outfit of leaves to try to soothe her own conscious. You can almost imagine her trying to convince herself that God won’t notice. That everything is fine. She’s busy playing it cool. And coincidentally playing a non-consensual game of hide and go seek with God. Eventually, God shows up, and you can’t help but feel that Eve and Adam not only feel ashamed, but foolish. They confess everything immediately. The running and the hiding didn’t deter them from the final result. God was going to find them regardless of whether or not they ever went to the less traveled parts of the garden.
I have found that in my running and hiding from God. It does nothing but give me some sort of illusion of control over when and where I come to terms with God on it. To a certain extent this is true. The truth is, I won’t resolve it with God until I am willing to drop the fig-leaves, come to terms with my nakedness, and say, “God, I’m naked. I screwed up.” The lie is that God didn’t know what was up all along. God knew what Eve and Adam were doing in the garden. We believe in a God who pays attention to the most nuanced parts of our lives. When God asked them where they were in the garden, it wasn’t because He was genuinely searching for them. What was He doing then? He was giving them a chance to come forward and admit it. God has given us the ability to choose. The ability to choose Him, to choose life, and choose it abundantly, but also the choice to try and hide, to foster lies that only we believe and run away. God calls to us in our hiding, in my hiding, to give us a chance to admit what is actually going on. He has chosen to let us decide when we resolve our nakedness with Him. This is for our benefit.
The question I was left with this afternoon, was, what nakedness am I trying desperately to hide from God? I’ve found a lot of things. More than I’d ever like to publicly (or privately for that matter) admit. Where there was fear, where there was shame, where there was hate, there were really sad looking leaf sweaters trying to mask the brokenness underneath. God isn’t fooled by our attempts to disguise them. If we’re honest, we aren’t fooled either. Nakedness looks a lot different than fig leaves. God has promised to enter those areas and bear the weight of the guilt, the shame, and the sin for us. We are called into the new creation that Christ served as a herald for. This is the Good News. This is the Gospel truth. Christ loves us so so much that He has taken the spiritual consequences on Himself so that we can once more be naked and unashamed with our Creator.
It’s time to get naked with God.
-Daniel Thomas, UMin Intern
Lately I’ve noticed that my conversation with God continually consists of, “I’m sorry.” … And I’m kind of sick of it. Because when I say “I’m sorry” one more time, it means that I’ve messed up again.
As I watch college students trying to stay afloat with their piles of commitments and expectations and pressures from themselves, their families, their peers and their education, I crave empty space for them.
In Psalm 46, David writes, “Be still and know that I am God.” Be still. It seems so counter cultural to ask us to be still. After all, the sun is shining, finals are coming, which means hours of studying to cover the procrastination that happened all quarter, preparation for summer jobs and internships are high on the priority to-do list, and – quite honestly we don’t have time to be still.
In the UMin office, we’re all scrambling to get things done, and between preparing for the end of the year and figuring out what’s next in life, I have fallen into the trap of, “no time to be still.”
And I have to fight that. Because I have these grand plans to go sit before God. I have these plans to wake up early, or to sit in the chair by my bed and listen to him. I have plans to go lay in a field and reflect on life, and I have plans to dig really deep into scripture and let it soothe my soul. … and then “more important” things come up, like running errands, or sleeping in, or scrolling through Pintrest, or calling a friend, or organizing my closet, or skipping out on sleep to scroll through Instagram.
When I finally do take the time to go lay in stillness in a park, I feel like God is saying, “Thank you!” and “I’ve been waiting for you.” And I’ve learned that when I am obedient to taking a deep breath and sitting still, God honors the rest of the clutter in my life. He helps me create space to breathe, and helps remind me who I am to him – so that I can focus on the most important thing, Him!
I know I’ll keep saying, “I’m sorry” to God throughout my whole life… I know he likes that too. But I love saying “thank you” to him, as he meets me in stillness and gives me an ocean of grace to walk into.
How are you being still in this season?
Megan Giehl, UMin Intern 2013-14
*Note: This post is from the archives, but it’s an important and relevant reflection for us as we enter into this busy fall season.